We must support each other on the picket line – COSATU

Federation urges all workers to withdraw their labour tomorrow to fight decimation of jobs

Let us support each other on the picket line or we will meet each other on the unemployment line

12 February 2019

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is urging all workers to join the COSATU led strike tomorrow and withdraw their labour to fight the decimation of our jobs. The ongoing retrenchments are devastating the livelihoods of many families and the time to fight back is now. Workers need to be united and reject narrow sectarianism at this difficult time of job losses. The worker's influence must remain based on their unity and organised power, their capacity to mobilise and build social alliances. 

COSATU is very angry with employers who continue to dismiss workers despite the high levels of unemployment in the country. The message is very clear; we demand a moratorium on retrenchments and we also want a people-centred budget that will prioritise the people and not corporations.

It is unacceptable that five years since the corporate tax was first reduced in 2012 from 34% to 28%, employers continue to retrench workers without any intervention from our government. We are calling for an introduction of redistributive tax an intervention which includes a progressive tax system, with an introduction of a tax category for the super-rich.

We have to learn lessons from the experience of the people of Greece, who have endured sustained attacks on their livelihoods as the IMF, European Union and European Central Bank were forcing the ordinary people of that country to pay for the bailout given to the private companies. You either work together to fight back or you go individually to the slaughterhouse. 

We are in an age of the highest exploitation, characterised by the centralization and concentration of capital and wealth in the hands of a few. We are experiencing the financialisation of the economy due to the systemic and chronic stagnation of the productive sectors; the systematic attack on the social functions of the State that has been achieved through the struggle of the workers and peoples. The mechanisation and automation are happening with the connivance of our government that is allowing the private sector to replace workers with machines without thinking about the consequences for the poor workers.

Over the past two decades, the Neoliberal regime of accumulation has failed to resolve the systemic crisis of capitalism in South Africa. These retrenchments are happening as a result of a manufactured crisis of profits. There is, therefore, an attempt to restore profitability through retrenchments, cuts in real wages, and widespread casual labour, particularly among the women and young workers.

We are seeing a super-exploitation of foreign workers in many sectors of our economy and appropriation of labour productivity gains by capital. The employers are playing the poor of this country against the poor people from our neighbouring countries. The retrenchment of South African workers to be replaced by foreigners in the sectors like Security, Services, farming, domestic and the freight industry is something that cannot be tolerated. We need to fight against this race to the bottom and the violation of our labour laws.

We are angry that employers continue to seek creative ways of evading compliance with labour legislation. The marginalisation of the working class in the economy has also been evidenced by flexible labour market in the form of actualisation, outsourcing and the use of labour brokers, the commodification of basic needs and the suppression of workers’ wages below productivity gains. 

Workers under the leadership of COSATU remain resolute in our campaign against retrenchments and we call on all workers and the unemployed to join us in this campaign. If we do not support each other on the picket line we will meet each other on the unemployment line.

Issued by Sizwe Pamla, National Spokesperson, COSATU, 12 February 2019